So far it appears El Dorado Hills voters have chosen their former general manager and two strong youth sports advocates for the three open spots on the Community Services District Board of Directors.
Two popular incumbents could be unseated — Justin Masters and Billy Vandegrift.
Between 15,000 and 17,000 mail-in ballots, plus 1,300 provision ballots, have yet to be counted, according to Elections Systems Coordinator Joe Zitzelberger. The target for counting the mail-in ballots is late this week, possibly Saturday.
Former San Jose Police Captain Dave Keneller ran a strong campaign, but was much newer in the community than the other candidates. He said he enjoyed his introduction to local politics, had learned a great deal and El Dorado Hills voters would likely see his name on a ballot again.
In an era of increased campaign spending, the El Dorado Hills CSD race saw fewer dollars spent that four years ago. Wayne Lowery, Keneller and Masters took no contributions whatsoever.
Ever-smiling incumbent Tony Rogozinski so far leads all candidates with 4,353 votes, narrowly beating out Lowery for first place.
Camped out at the Purple Place with a laptop and a lot of friends, Rogozinski reiterated his campaign strategy. “I went out there and talked about what we accomplished,” he said.
Rogozinski was elected in 2006 with a strong youth sports backing. His behind-the-scenes wrangling for the largely private funded Deputy Jeff Mitchell Field and his more public message of fiscal frugality in the district played well in El Dorado Hills. His affable “everyman” persona and straight talk during board meetings make him popular with district residents.
“This board did a lot of listening,” he said, “and we acted on the majority of it.”
Board members are paid $100 per meeting, but Rogozinski didn’t accept any compensation for his board service until the last two months, when he had campaign expenses to defray.
Rogozinski estimated he raised roughly $4,000, but cut way back on campaign contribution solicitations this time. “In this era of frugality it just didn’t seem appropriate,” he said.
Before results were posted, Rogozinski reiterated his goal. “All I ever wanted out of this was to help make a difference in this community, and I think we’ve done that,” he said. “If what we’ve accomplished isn’t good enough in the eyes of the voters they should have someone else do it. I’m fine with that.”
The most well known candidate on the ballot wasn’t an incumbent, but felt like one. “I feel like I’ve spent 20 years campaigning for this job,” joked recently retired CSD General Manager Wayne Lowery, who currently has 4,319 votes.
Lowery earned the respect of the community for his openness and even temperament.
He ran on the accomplishments of the district during his tenure as GM, and on the need for continuity in a district undergoing a nearly complete turnover of senior management, including his recently hired replacement as general manager.
His dream, he said, is to put a trophy park on the El Dorado Hills Boulevard former golf course site. It’s currently owned by Serrano. “If Mr. Parker gives us the chance we could create a high-visibility, ‘crown jewel’ for this community,” he said.
Chuck Hammond could squeeze into the third open seat on the CSD board.He currently has 3,596 votes, a mere 28 more than Vandegrift.
Hammond said he ran for the CSD board to ensure the survival and quality of CSD youth sports programs. “I want to have first say on what affects my kids,” he said.
Hammond’s “kids” are the El Dorado Hills youth basketball teams he coaches. He encouraged his teams and their parents to canvass door-to-door for him after team pizza parties. “My kids were out there until 7 p.m. tonight,” he said from his Serrano home late Tuesday night. “They just went up and asked politely ‘Will you vote for my coach.’”
Hammond, who often refers to himself as “coach,” said he raised a “couple thousand” dollars, but spent about twice that. He plans on holding another fundraiser.
He’s become known in El Dorado Hills for his high-energy, upbeat personality. The day before the election he exuded confidence. “We’ve got a good chance,” he said. “Nobody will outwork me.
“My campaign strategy was just to be me,” he continued. “It’s about the kids. That’s what I do best — mold children into good people and teach them to project love and respect.”
The three write in candidates who emerged late in the race didn’t mount much resistance to the strong field of incumbents and challengers. As of early Wednesday morning vote tallies for Laura Maslov, Aaron Crews and Scott Kraeger had not been posted by the county Elections Department.
The new board will be seated during the first board meeting of 2011. They’ll have a new general manager, and will fill other vacant director positions.